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Lebanon to file urgent complaint to UN over Israeli breaches of airspace

Lebanese president denounces Israel’s ‘aggression’ amid intensification of flights, which Israeli officials have said are needed to monitor Hezbollah

Illustrative: An Israeli Air Force F-35 Lightning II fighter jet takes part in a graduation ceremony for IAF pilots at the Hatzerim base in Israel's Negev desert, on December 26, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Illustrative: An Israeli Air Force F-35 Lightning II fighter jet takes part in a graduation ceremony for IAF pilots at the Hatzerim base in Israel's Negev desert, on December 26, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP)

BEIRUT — The Lebanese president’s office said Tuesday that the country will file an urgent complaint with the United Nations against what it called Israel’s daily violations of its airspace, and intensifying drone reconnaissance and mock raids around the country.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun called for a condemnation of Israel’s “aggression and violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty” and the UN resolution that brought about the cessation of hostilities between the two countries following their last all-out conflict in 2006.

The two countries remain technically at war and Lebanon has repeatedly complained of Israel’s violations of its airspace and waters.

In recent weeks, Israeli military jets have been accused of carrying out several low-altitude flights over the capital and other major cities, causing jitters among civilians who are no strangers to conflict. Warplanes have appeared in Beirut skies, causing loud noise, including on Christmas Eve. The flights frightened residents of the city who have recently survived a massive explosion in the port.

Reconnaissance drones sometimes remain in Lebanese airspace for 24 hours at a time, said a Lebanese military official who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

A photograph said to be of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jet flying over the Lebanese capital of Beirut, which was apparently leaked to Israel’s Hadashot news. (Screen capture)

Israel rarely comments on such missions, but Israeli officials have said the overflights are necessary because Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah terror group is violating the 2006 UN resolution that bars it from building up its military capabilities and operating near the Israeli border.

Many such raids are often to carry out strikes in neighboring Syria, where Israel has been targeting Iranian-backed militias and posts for Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside Syrian troops in that country’s civil war.

Israel has expressed concern, and acted to thwart, increasing Iranian and Hezbollah presence near its borders, including a stockpile of precision-guided missiles.

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, in a year-end interview, said Israel’s efforts to curb his terror group’s ability to acquire those missiles have failed, adding that it now has twice as many as it had last year.

A worker cleans a statue of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, installed to commemorate the anniversary of his killing in a US drone strike in Baghdad; in Ghobeiry, a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon says Israel enters Lebanese airspace on a daily basis in violation of UN resolutions and the country’s sovereignty.

Between June and October 2020, UNIFIL recorded a daily average of 12.63 airspace violations, totaling 61 hours and 51 minutes in flight time, a significant increase from the previous four months. Then, drones accounted for most of the violations.

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